[singlepic id=828 w=320 h=240 float=left]The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil will debut on FUEL TV this Sunday night, June 10, at 10:00pm ET. This is the first international edition of the UFC’s flagship reality show that has already aired in Brazil and was available through UFC.com. Starting Sunday, it will air on FUEL TV as a part of the UFC’s deal with FOX.
Rodrigo Artiheiro, one of Vitor Belfort’s assistant coaches on the show, spent 6 weeks working on the show as it was filmed in Brazil and is back in LasVegas, currently coaching at Xtreme Couture. He joined MMA Fight Corner on Saturday to talk about the experience and talked about working with Junior dos Santos prior to his 1st title defense against Frank Mir at UFC 146.
Being on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, he said “was a great opportunity for me to spend six weeks filming the show for the UFC in Brazil. Vitor invited me to come over to share my knowledge, my experience in wrestling and grappling.” (***SPOILER ALERT***) With our team, Team Vitor, Team Green we’re doing pretty good. Wanderlei’s team won like one fight. We won seven fights. We were smashing the blue team. The smurfs,” he joked.
While the success of MMA viewership in Brazil hasn’t transcended in numbers to the USA yet, Artilheiro explained that there were over 80 million viewers watching the show on Brazil’s Globo TV network. That’s 79 million more people than the ratings for the Ultimate Fighter Live finale had. Artilheiro thinks with TUF Brazil will bring more viewers. “The US peeps can watch the show and see what’s going on with Brazilian style MMA. I think, we’re kind of different from the American style,” he said.
He attributed the difference to Brazil not putting their MMA fighters into amateur fights. Instead, MMA newcomers there are thrown straight into the fire in pro-fights. Brazilian pro-fights include a mix of Judo, Grappling and Jiu Jitsu, whereas American amateur fights don’t often feature competitions that intensely skilled, he explained.
Though he’s not returning to Brazil for UFC 147 where the finalists from TUF Brazil will fight, Artilheiro talked about fellow countryman Fabricio Werdum, who has a fight coming up against Mike Russow on that card. He said, “I think it’s a good match for Fabricio. Mike Russow is a very good wrestler. I trained with him at Xtreme Couture once. He’s very tough. He’s a heavy guy, he knows jiu jitsu. But, Fabricio’s very good on the ground, he’s very smart, a very good fighter. I think it’s a very good match for Fabricio. I think he’s going to submit him.”
Artilheiro would know. After all, he was also a part of Junior dos Santos’ training camp leading up to his UFC 146. “It was a good experience for me, you know, training with Junior. It’s always like a fight. He trains like 100%, he goes like 100% at sparring. Besides teaching him, I learned a lot of things, a lot of skills, wrestling, jiu jitsu.” Artilheiro said he also worked with Junior on avoiding Mir’s single leg takedown, showed him how defend it, and told him to stay off the ground. He was surprised to see an exact scenario of what they praticed happen in the fight. “[Mir] fell back and I think he spread his legs. But Junior turned around.”
While many have touted dos Santos as one of the hardest to takedown, Artilheiro says there may be one man who can do it, and it’s not Cain Velasquez who will get a rematch against JDS. “I don’t believe Cain can beat Junior. One guy that I truly believe would be like a very dangerous fight, would be Daniel Cormier…So right now I don’t see anyone who can beat Junior, even Cain Velasquez. I don’t believe he can take Junior down. If you take Junior down, he has a very good game on his back. People don’t know that.”
As for Cormier, he will fight in Strikeforce again. The fight is rumored to be against former UFC heavyweight, Tim Sylvia (according to an interview with Cormier on Sherdog.com). The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner also just had hand surgery and isn’t expected to be able to hit again for over a month. Artilheiro who saw Cormier wrestle and medal against a friend of his in the Olympics said, “His wrestling background is very good for MMA. He’s a very good wrestler.”